As a track and field coach, I would often tell my sprinters that ‘the race is won at the starting blocks.’ Will starting blocks make you faster? The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, starting blocks will help you win the race, but they won’t necessarily make you a faster runner, per se.
Unlike distance running, which demands proper pacing technique to grab a win, a sprint is won by starting technique as much (or more) than any other technique.
Starting blocks are one of the very few pieces of sports equipment sprinters use when racing. The only other sprints that require equipment beyond the runner’s uniform, are (1) 110/110 hurdles and (2) relays. Aside from the hurdles and batons, starting blocks are the dominant piece of equipment that all sprinters use. In fact, you’ll find that for any race shorter than 400m, starting blocks are a must. And there are many racers who choose to use starting blocks even for a 400m race.
Starting blocks are one of the best ways grab a win in the race. If you can explode out of the starting blocks, you have an immediate advantage. Some racers don’t appreciate the importance of starting blocks and clumsily assume the starting blocks are there just to make sure you don’t slip back when starting the race. While it is true that the starting blocks are there to help keep you from slipping back, they are intended to also allow an explosion into the start of the race.
My recommendation to athletes is to spend at least 30 minutes every other day practicing starts from the starting blocks. Everybody is good at crossing a finish line, but very few have mastered the skill of starting a race properly. Having a regular drill schedule to practice starting block techniques will help ensure you are one of the elite runners on the track.
Another important aspect of starting blocks is the psychological advantage they give to runners who know how to use them. This may seem trite, but it’s true. If you can make it clear to the rest of the runners that you know exactly how to use your starting blocks, they will have the sense that you’re already the winner. It’s psychological, but it works. Runners are always looking and comparing their warm-up routines, include starting block placement, to other runners. Psyching out the competition is part of the athletic world, whether you’re a professional athlete playing at Madison Square Garden or a rural semi-pro playing at Idaho’s Melaleuca Field.
So, will starting blocks make you faster? Well, they will make you a faster STARTER, which is often all it takes to ensure you capture the win!